Sun, Jun 17, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan to help its diplomatic allies protect biodiversity

Staff writer, with CNA

Taiwan is set to launch a plant conservation project on the Solomon Islands this summer to help its Asia-Pacific ally protect its biodiversity, according to a professor at National Tsing Hua University.

Li Chia-wei (李家維) said it is time for Taiwan to share its rich experience in plant conservation with countries whose ecosystems are on the verge of collapse.

“However, this is a race against time,” he said, explaining that the unique biodiversity of the Solomon Islands is in grave danger because of harm caused by deforestation and global warming.

With assistance from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Museum of Natural Science, Li said, he intends to export Taiwan’s conservation knowledge to the Solomon Islands to rescue the nation’s more than 6,000 plant species.

Five years ago, Li initiated a conservation campaign in Pingtung County, which helped certain plant species to survive by nurturing about 20,000 plants of various species in a greenhouse. The success has made him more ambitious in introducing the scheme to other countries in need.

Not only is a greenhouse scheduled to be shipped to the Solomon Islands in August, but Li’s doctoral students are also gearing up to fly there to set up a lab for long-term preservation work. They plan to publish the results to raise people’s awareness about the importance of preserving nature’s diversity.

As if the project were not big enough on its own, Li said he is also in talks with officials in Sao Tome and Principe about a plan to jointly preserve plant seeds in the country before the situation there becomes similar to that of the Solomon Islands.

“The pressure to develop can accelerate at any time, so it is important to help them set up a conservation strategy before it happens,” he said.

Li said he plans to make a trip to Sao Tome and Principe in the coming weeks. His mission is to call on government officials there to explain how he and his team could be of help, he said.

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